Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Running The Longevity Gauntlet

Why does it seem like whenever modern medicine finds a cure for one disease another one steps in to take its place. It's as if we were only meant to live for so long.

Mother Nature Theory
The disposable soma theory basically said that our bodies are mere vessels for our reproductive “germ” cells - our DNA - and thus only need to last long enough for us to reproduce. What happens afterward is of no concern.

The truth is that Mother Nature never intended for us to live much past our 30’s or 40’s. We were put on this planet to pass along our seed, so to speak, and that’s it.


As the theory goes, in the world that our hunter/gatherer ancestors occupied,living past our prime (our usefulness) is not only unhelpful to our progeny, but by draining available resources, it is actually detrimental. Vital resources were sparse and could not be wasted on non-producers. Nature cannot support anything that works against the propagation of the species.


Extending Life Expectancy
In 1900, the leading cause of death for Americans was heart disease, followed by tuberculosis, and pneumonia. The latter two in retreat due to the advent of antibiotics. Two of the top three killers were the result of the environment in which we lived, but through better hygiene and medicine, we arrested childhood killers and began to really extend our overall life expectancy.
Running The Gauntlet
Thanks to the ever-increasing heart attack survival rate and the management of heart disease, more and more people are living long enough to get cancer, making it the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. Now, with modern medicine making great strides in the fight against this disease, there are other killers waiting for their turn such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and eventually the most feared of them all, Alzheimers.

A large body of research shows that one’s aging trajectory is largely determined by how we are in middle age. Those with lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and body-mass index (BMI) in the forties and fifties, the study found, stood a much better chance of living to age eighty-five without any major health problems.

80 Percent Of All Deaths Are Lifestyle Related
This is the statistic that gets me up and going in the morning. Simply stated, we have a say in determining whether or not we are going to get one of the aforementioned diseases. All we have to do is live a healthier lifestyle than we have been living. And even a little bit helps. Just adding a regular walk to your daily routine will add several years (healthier years I might add) to your life. Cut a little sugar, do a few push ups, it all adds up.


There are so many things we can do to live a healthier lifestyle and all of them we can start today!

Why The Adventure Life?
Well, if you are still with me on some of these ideas, then maybe you will be able to consider another one. It is commonly accepted that we are physically carrying out our daily routine using the same vehicles that our distant ancestors were using.


We climbed down out of the trees and began walking upright about 8 million years ago, we started really looking human about 2 million years ago, we were almost fully modern about 200,000 years ago, and we became the people we are today about 70,000 years ago. Give or take. 8 million years of evolution has led to what we are today, and whatever it was that was good or bad for us during that stretch still applies today.


Going back to the disposable soma theory, whatever it was back then that announced that we were coming down the home stretch and approaching the finish line, still applies. So, what could be the thing that indicates that we can no longer produce for our family and the tribe? The inability to hunt and/or gather, i.e. slowing down and getting weaker are the most obvious indicators that come to my mind. Spending too many years drawing resources instead of producing them has got to be something that Mother Nature cannot allow, for the betterment of the species.


“The latter part of the life cycle [becomes] a genetic garbage can.” - Geneticist Michael Rose

So, it seems logical that if we can convince our bodies that we are still tracking and hunting (not slowing down) that we are still producing and still worthy of sticking around for a few extra years. Obviously, most of us cannot go out and start hunting every day with a spear or a knife, but we can surely reproduce a similar physiological response.


We can get the physical response by getting outside and running, and jumping, and climbing. And we can get the chemical and hormonal response by doing some things that are out of our comfort zone, maybe way out of our comfort zone.


Well, this is all just a theory, but in a way it makes sense, and if not, it might be a good enough excuse to get out there and do some crazy stuff anyway. That’s what I’m going with!


Take care and I'll see you out there!

Resources:
Spring Chicken by Bill Giffords
Fast After 50 by Joel Friel
Disposable Soma Theory of Aging - by Thomas Kirkwood